Horror Film Review: Buffy the Vampire (dir by Fran Rubel Kuzui)

Watching this movie was such a strange experience.

Now, of course, I say that as someone who grew up watching and loving the television version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Back when Buffy was on TV, I was always aware that the character had first been introduced in a movie but every thing I read about Buffy said that the movie wasn’t worth watching.  It was a part of the official Buffy mythology that Joss Whedon was so unhappy with what was done to his original script that he pretty much ignored the film when he created the show.

So, yes, the 1992 movie version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer showed how Buffy first learned that she was a slayer, how she fought a bunch of vampires in Los Angeles, and how her first watcher met his end.  But still, Joss Whedon was always quick to say that the film should not be considered canonical.  Whenever anyone on the TV show mentioned anything from Buffy’s past, they were referencing Joss Whedon’s original script as opposed to the film that was eventually adapted from that script.  (For instance, on the tv series, everyone knew that Buffy’s previous school burned down.  That was from Whedon’s script.  However, 20th Century Fox balked at making a film about a cheerleader who burns down her school so, at the end of the film version, the school is still standing and romance is in the air.)  In short, the film existed but it really didn’t matter.  In fact, to be honest, it almost felt like watching the movie would somehow be a betrayal of everything that made the televisions series special.

Myself, I didn’t bother to watch the film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer until several years after the television series was canceled and, as I said at the start of the review, it was a strange experience.  The movie is full of hints of what would make the television series so memorable but none of them are really explored.  Yes, Buffy (played here by Kristy Swanson) has to balance being a teenager with being a vampire slayer but, in the film, it turns out to be surprisingly easy to do.  Buffy is just as happy to be a vampire slayer as she is to be a cheerleader.  In fact, one of the strange things about the film is just how quickly and easily Buffy accepts the idea that there are vampires feeding on her classmates and that it’s her duty to destroy them.  Buffy’s watcher is played by Donald Sutherland and the main vampire is played by Rutger Hauer, two veteran actors who could have played these roles in their sleep and who appear to do so for much of the film.  As for Buffy’s love interest, he’s a sensitive rebel named Oliver Pike (Luke Perry).  On the one hand, it’s fun to see the reversal of traditional gender roles, with Oliver frequently helpless and needing to be saved by Buffy.  On the other hand, Perry and Swanson have next to no chemistry so it’s a bit difficult to really get wrapped up in their relationship.

I know I keep coming back to this but watching the movie version of Buffy is a strange experience.  It’s not bad but it’s just not Buffy.  It’s like some sort of weird, mirror universe version of Buffy, where Buffy starts her slaying career as a senior in high school and she never really has to deal with being an outcast or anything like that.  (One gets the feeling that the movie’s Buffy wouldn’t have much to do with the Scooby Gang.  Nor would she have ever have fallen for Angel.)  Kristy Swanson gives a good performance as the film version of Buffy, though the character is not allowed to display any of the nuance or the quick wit that made the television version a role model for us all.  Again it’s not that Buffy the movie is terrible or anything like that.  It’s just not our Buffy!

4 Shots From Horror History: Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer, Candyman, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Cronos

This October, I’m going to be doing something a little bit different with my contribution to 4 Shots From 4 Films.  I’m going to be taking a little chronological tour of the history of horror cinema, moving from decade to decade.

Today, we start the 90s!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990, dir by John McNaughton)

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990, dir by John McNaughton)

Candyman (1992, dir by Bernard Rose)

Candyman (1992, dir by Bernard Rose)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992, dir by Fran Rubel Kuzui)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992, dir by Fran Rubel Kuzui)

Cronos (1993, dir by Guillermo del Toro)

Cronos (1993, dir by Guillermo del Toro)

Horror on TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.20 “The Prom”


This episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer made me cry the first time I saw it. And it’s made me cry every time that I’ve watched it since.

(Along with She’s All That, It also left me with a totally unrealistic expectation of what my senior prom would be like but that’s okay.)

The Prom originally aired on May 11th, 1999.

(10/13/2015 update: Oh my God, y’all! I am so pissed off at Hulu right now! This entire show was available when I first created this post. And now, that I’ve actually published it, Hulu suddenly just wants to provide a 90-second preview. Please accept my apologies.)

Horror on TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.18 “Earshot”


In this episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy gets infected with the blood of a demon and develops the ability to hear other people’s thoughts. Along with allowing her to discover that Xander is obsessed with sex (like she needed telepathy for that) and that Giles and her mom did it twice on the hood of a police car, it also allows her to discover that one of her classmates might be planning on doing something violent.

This is one of my favorites episodes of Buffy, largely because it uses the paranormal as a way to expose a very real issue and to explore everyone’s shared humanity. Plus, I’ve always felt that, even after playing Buffy and starring in the wonderful guilty pleasure Ringer, Sarah Michelle Gellar remains a sadly underrated actress. This episode features her at her best.

Horror on TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.16 “Doppelgangland”


Let’s continue our look at Horror on TV with another classic episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Just as yesterday’s episode focused on a supporting character (Xander), this episode focuses on Willow!

I was going to say that Doppelgangland was one of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but then I realized that everyone would probably say that. This is an episode that truly shows why countless fans continue to love the show after all these years.

Horror on TV: Buffy The Vampire Slayer 3.13 “The Zeppo”



I love Buffy The Vampire Slayer and it’s always bothered me that I haven’t been able to share any episodes on this site. But, fortunately, this Halloween, Hulu has come to the rescue!

The Zeppo is one of my favorite episodes. While Buffy and the Scooby Gang save the world in the background, Xander (Nicholas Brendon) finally gets an adventure of his very own! Actually, there’s a lot of things that Xander finally gets to do in this wonderful episode!

(On a personal note, it breaks my heart whenever I read about Nicholas Brendon getting arrested and I’m reminded that Xander was just a fictional character.)

Seriously, enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

What Lisa and Megan Watched Last Night #95: California Dreams 3.10 “Daddy’s Girl” (dir by Patrick Maloney)

I’ve been spending the weekend visiting my sister Megan and her family.  Last night, Megan and I watched yet another episode of the mediocre yet oddly entertaining 90s sitcom, California Dreams.

Why Were We Watching It?

So, last night, after everyone else in the house was sound asleep, Megan and I were awake and doing some sisterly bonding, which — when you’re a member of the Bowman clan — usually concludes with watching something silly.

But what to watch?  Because I have the greatest big sister in the world, Megan happens to have every season of Saved By The Bell: The New Class on DVD and, at first, I was really tempted to suggest that we watch something from the storied history of Bayside High.  But, when I actually thought about it, I knew that we simply had to watch yet another episode of California Dreams.

 Last night, we watched a handful of episodes but I specifically decided to review the “Daddy’s Girl” episode because it was the episode that preceded the Family Trees episode, which just happens to also be the last episode of the show that I reviewed for this site.

(As some of our regular readers my remember, it’s been nearly a year since Megan first introduced me to this show when, during the Christmas holidays, we sat down and watched the 4th season episode, Dancing Isn’t Everything. )

What Was It About?

Future steroid addict Tiffani Smith (Kelly Packard) is worried because her father has been alone ever since her parents got divorced.  (I assume that the Smiths got divorced though it’s never specifically stated, beyond Mr. Smith saying, “Ever since your mother left…”  So, it’s entirely possible that Tiffani’s mom may have joined a cult or something.)  Tiffani arranges for her father to meet Ariel (Kristine Sutherland), a woman who claims to be an expert in dolphins.  Mr. Smith and Ariel hit it off and, at first, Tiffani is super excited!

However, Mr. Smith is soon spending all of him time hanging out with Ariel and a jealous Tiffani ends up having one of those extremely elaborate and plot-specific nightmares that always seem to happen on California Dreams.  So, with the help of Ariel’s criminal record, Tiffani breaks up her dad’s new relationship.

Problem solved, right?

Nope.  Now that Mr. Smith is alone again, Tiffani feels guilty and seriously, you have to wonder if there’s ever been a more wishy-washy character than Tiffani Smith.  So, Tiffani tries to get Ariel and Mr. Smith back together by singing them a song.

Meanwhile, in the B plot, Mark (Aaron Jackson) has come up with a computer program that tells Samantha (Jennie Kwan), Tony (William James Jones), Jake (Jay Anthony Franke), and Lorena (Diana Uribe) that none of them are compatible.  Since this was made in the 1990s, everyone automatically believes anything determined by a computer to be true and, as a result, there are mass breakups.

What Worked?

As soon as Ariel first stepped into Sharky’s, Megan and I immediately exclaimed, “Buffy!”  That’s because Ariel was played by Kristine Sutherland who is better known for playing Joyce Summers, the mother of Buffy the Vampire Slayer!  This, of course, led to Megan and I imagining a scenario where Tiffani’s dad turned out to be a vampire and Buffy had to destroy him.  That was a lot of fun.

I thought it was funny just how terrified Tony was of having to listen to Mr. Smith talk about humpback whales.  It made me smile.

What Did Not Work?

To be honest, this episode really had a pretty bad message and I’m glad that I didn’t see it whenever it originally aired because it probably would have given me a lot of false hope.  Tiffani’s father goes out with Ariel because Tiffani wants him to.  He breaks up with Ariel because Tiffani wants him to.  And then, eventually, they get back together again because Tiffani is really sorry and really wants everything to be better.

This episode takes place in a world where a daughter can heal a broken family just through sheer willpower and desire.  It’s a world where, even if that daughter screws everything up, all she has to do is let everyone know how sorry she is and then sing a pretty song and magically, everything will be better.  It would be nice if that was true but it’s not and that’s one of the hardest lessons to learn when you’re young and convinced that, since everything is somehow your fault, you’re also capable of fixing it all and making everyone happy again.

On a less serious note, do the members of the California Dreams ever do anything other than eat?  Seriously!  Almost every episode seems to feature them whining about how they don’t have any money and yet, they spend all of their time at Sharky’s eating.  If Mark is really struggling financially, maybe he shouldn’t have ordered that expensive desert.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

As usual, I related to Lorena because she had really pretty hair and the best fashion sense of anyone on the show.  Plus, I’ve got a weakness for bad boys who wear big, bulky jackets.

As I told Megan last night, much like Tiffani, I also spent a lot of my teenage years wishing that I could sing a song that would somehow make everything better.

“Lisa Marie,” Megan said, “that’s sweet but you know you can’t sing.”

And she’s right.  I can’t carry a tune to save my life.

Lessons Learned

Humpback whales are boring.


Horror On TV: The Unaired Pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

When I first decided that I wanted to devote some of October to horror-themed television, I knew i wanted to feature a few episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  After all, Buffy is one of the most acclaimed and influential shows of all time.  On a personal note, the show started when I was 12 and it ended right before my senior year of high school.  As a result, Buffy was a show that I watched during some of the most emotionally turbulent years of my life and, as a character, Buffy Summers was the type of role model that I needed.

However, what i quickly discovered was that there really aren’t any full length episodes of Buffy on YouTube.  There’s plenty of fanvids.  There’s a lot of music videos featuring clips of Angel and Buffy staring soulfully at each other.  But, because of copyright issues, there aren’t any full-length episodes available on YouTube.

However, there is the unaired pilot.

This was a 30-minute “sample” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that was written and directed by Joss Whedon in 1996.  The episode was never meant to be televised.  Instead, it was a tool that Whedon used to pitch the concept of Buffy to the networks.

So, since I couldn’t find Hush on YouTube, here’s the 1996 unaired pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Love in media

I will share with you all what I consider the most profound statements and gestures of love I have seen so far on film or television (in no particular order).

Why does a man do what he mustn’t? For her. To be hers. To be the kind of man who would ne… To be a kind of man. And she shall look on him with forgiveness… and everybody will forgive and love. He will be loved.
– Spike


Uncomfortable silences. Why do we feel it’s necessary to yak about bullsh*t in order to be comfortable?
That’s when you know you’ve found somebody really special: you can just shut the f*ck up for a minute and comfortably share silence.
– Mia Wallace


So, yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing, and… What I’m trying to say, Tristan, is… I think I love you. My heart… It feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I’d wish for nothing in exchange — no gifts, no goods, no demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you loved me, too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.
– Yvaine


My dream is of eternity with you… I offer you this rose… my heart… my soul… my love
– The Lord of Darkness


12 Months Down

Hi!  So, guess what today is?  *sigh*  Yes, smartass, it is Sunday but that’s not what I was looking for.  *shaking head*

It’s my anniversary!  That’s right — one year ago today, I posted my first review on this site and twelve months and 243 posts later, I have yet to shut up.

So, I was wondering — what should I do to observe this occasion?  Well, I guess I could so what most people would do and not make a big deal out of it but — well, I’m incapable of not making a big deal out of stuff.  Briefly, I considered posting a nude picture as my way of saying thank you but who wants to see that, right?  So, as I woke up this morning from my usual 2 hours of sleep, I asked myself, “Lisa, what are you going to do?”

Well, for the most part, I’ve observed the occasion by being kinda lazy.  Seriously, I’ve spent today in my beloved Hello Kitty robe (pictured above, it’s so comfy!), curled up on my couch with my feet tucked underneath me.  I’ve been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Chiller. 

Of course, to be honest, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer always makes me want to go out and like start kicking people out of the hope that they’ll turn out to be vampire or a demon or a Riley.  And since, I’m just a teensy bit more klutzy than Buffy and Faith, that show has indirectly been responsible for a lot of sprained ankles.

Anyway, I’ve decided to observe my anniversary by doing two things.  First off, I’ve read through my 243 previous posts and I’ve selected ten that I think pretty much tell you all you need to know about both who I am and my own taste in film.  And here they are:

1) Film Review: Welcome Home Brother Charles (dir. by Jaama Fanaka) (posted on April 4th, 2010) — My first ever review

2) 10 Reasons Why I Hated Avatar (posted on April 21st, 2010) — In which I explain why I’m right and everyone else is wrong.

3) Too Sordid To Ever Be Corrupted (posted on August 1st, 2010) — My manifesto in which I explain why I love the grindhouse.

4) Titanic: In Retrospect (posted on October 6th, 2010) — In which I discover whether or not Titanic is still as good as I thought it was when I was 12.

5) Review: Black Swan (dir. by Darren Aronofsky) (posted on December 9th, 2010) — Out of all the reviews I’ve written so far, this is my personal favorite.

6) Do Critics Matter? (posted on December 9th, 2010) — In which I attack the critical establishment

7) What Lisa Watched Last Night: The Perfect Teacher (posted on December 27th, 2010) — In which I reveal that I’m obsessed with Lifetime movies

8 ) If Lisa Marie Determined The Oscar Nominees (posted on January 22nd, 2010) — In which I come up with a much more interesting ballot than the Academy.

9) Lisa Marie’s Latest You Tube Obessesion (posted on January 27th, 2010) — In which I prove once again that I have silly obsessions

10) Lisa Marie Takes a Sucker Punch (dir. by Zack Snyder) (posted on March 27th, 2011) — In which I defend the most unfairly maligned movie of 2011.

And secondly, as I think I’ve made clear here, I love trailers.  Quite often, I’d rather watch the trailer than the film itself.  So, here’s the trailer for a film that, at the suggestion of the Trash Film Guru, I will be watching and reviewing at some point in the near future — Birdemic: Shock and Terror.


And, on that note, let me just extend my sincere thanks to everyone who has read anything I’ve written over the past year.  I’m especially  thankful to those of you who have taken the time to comment and let me know your opinion (except for Vermont Fran and Outraged Bob, who were kinda humorless and boring about it).  I’ve had a wonderful time this year, sharing and interacting and here’s hoping that this next year will be even better!

Love ya!